project image
Tanja Drobnjak
710196 (DELUSIONS)

first performed on November 12, 2020
Podroom Gallery, Belgrade Cultural Center
performed once in 2020


Belgrade, Serbia

710196 (DELUSIONS)

Performance ‘‘710196’’ took place at the opening of my solo exhibition, “Delusions,” and lasted for two hours. For the performance, I was lying fully naked on my back, symmetrically on a hard, wooden surface, breathing in and out at full capacity, dramatically expanding my rib cage. I didn’t move my limbs or fingers for the entire two hours; only my back and rib cage were in some vertical motion. All my muscles were highly contracted the whole time.

Due to pandemic measures, only five people were allowed into the exhibit at a time, which established a very unique chamber atmosphere. Each group of five visitors could enter for no more than ten minutes. They were not allowed to take photos or videos, which made them very focused and present. They were instructed not to touch the body, but they could move around and even approach me very close. Since the performance was part of the solo exhibition, the visitors could walk around to observe the other video projections, screens, and textual installations, and come back to me before leaving.

I often think, from the position of a performance artist, about how the audience observes me and what they see. It’s not a theatrical performance; it’s a living sculpture. Does that shape of the body make sense? Is the body too elongated? Is it too tense? In that position, I felt the people around me, even though I was staring at the ceiling the whole time. Strange deceptions and illusions occurred during the “live installation.” I felt like the ceiling beam dropped a few centimeters from my eye; I also felt like it was very far away. I felt claustrophobic in the moments when the beam was close to my face. It even moved. I saw people up there—these were deceptions. They were no longer illusions. This condition did not allow my brain to shut down. I would hear people who knew me greet me while passing by, and I probably knew them, too, but it all seemed very naïve to me in the moment. I felt that there were people, but I couldn’t permit myself to think about them. It was a weird reverie: I am not a body that sees you but a new entity that no longer recognizes you. The body was in space, and around it were memories that others entered. Every time someone new entered the gallery, they would bring a cold wave with them.

There is always a moment of surprise in my work, and I have to surprise myself first. I can’t do rehearsals anymore, which is why these bizarre feelings occurred in the body, motionless. I felt the body move, go away, move left, then right. Sometimes, it would shorten, and sometimes, it felt like it was in two parts, as if there was no middle. As I lay there and the body breathed, all the mental images made from the projections, overlapping sounds, and repetitions around me came to the foreground—all the senses sharpened at that moment.